Southampton, N.Y.–It started as a way to stay healthy after a diabetes diagnosis and has turned into an event that raises thousands to find a cure for the disease.
In 2009, just as he was celebrating his 44th birthday, Adwar Casting Chief Financial Officer Keith Adwar was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. His doctor recommended finding a workout routine that would help him keep his blood sugar level down while also taking medication.
Enter two of Adwar’s close friends–David Newman and Steven Garten, cyclists who talked him into taking up their hobby and buying a road bike.
The friends’ shared passion soon led them to the realization that they should ride to help raise money for a good cause; he and his friends first decided to bike around Manhattan to raise money for multiple sclerosis research.
After raising about $6,000 that first year without too much effort, Adwar said, they decided to ride for something a little more personal. In 2011, they switched to raising money for diabetes research, and Team Adwar was born.
Acting as co-chair for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure Bike ride in Long Island, Adwar, through all teams, helped raise more than $1.2 million dollars between 2011 and 2014.
His team’s name became Team Adwar-Newman when Newman’s son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 15.
Over the years, Adwar-Newman has grown to include neighbors, customers, family and friends, and has included more than 100 different bikers who have raised some $225,000 for diabetes research.
“Cycling has helped a lot in my fight to stay healthy, and I’m really grateful for it,” Adwar said. “I’m happy to be able to raise money to find a cure through that.”
But Adwar grew unhappy with the way funds were being spent by the ADA, and he left in search of another way to help raise money for the cause.
He came upon the Diabetes Research Institute at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami. (Adwar and his brother, Gregg, are University of Miami alumni.) The institute’s foundation raises funds that go toward finding a cure for diabetes, with a very small percentage going to administrative costs, Adwar said.
Keith Adwar and David Newman at a diabetes ride
He approached the institute about holding a ride to raise money for them, a first of its kind, in Long Island.
Last year was the first official Empire Ride for the DRI, raising about $22,000 by riding time.
The second Empire Ride is scheduled to take place next month.
Adwar said he doesn’t have a specific monetary goal in mind for the event this year, as they’re still working on building it and adding riders. Ideally, though, he’d like to have the event be a million-dollar ride within the next four to five years.
And though he says he’s generally hesitant to ask people for money, they have run radio ads and social media posts to garner attention for it and raise funds. The DRI also has created a video for the efforts.
For Adwar, it’s not about his name or the company’s name, it’s about raising the money and also advocating for the healthy lifestyle he has adopted.
“I’ve motivated a lot of people. That’s where I’m proud,” he said.
The 2017 Empire Ride will take place on Sept. 24, offering riders four route options: 25 miles, 50 miles, 70 miles and 100 miles.